What’s Time to Hire, And Why Does it Matter

It’s no longer news that today’s job market is very tight. Finding good candidates for almost every role is harder than ever. Job boards, staffing agencies, company websites, social media, and referral programs are all flooded with open positions.

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What this means is that job candidates have their choice of roles and are able to consider multiple new positions simultaneously. It’s not enough to attract candidates and get them in the door, you’ve got to make a decision and make the offer before your competitors do. The alternatives are open positions or compromising on new hires’ qualifications and experience.

To be clear, it’s not just about being the first to hire. After all, candidates will find ways to stall and pause in order to have multiple offers to weigh. However, it’s important that the hiring process not send a message to new hires that your businesses is disorganized and/or incapable of making timely decisions.

The hiring process is the first real interaction your potential hire has with your organization. You want the experience to send an accurate message about your company culture and to comfort new hires that they’ll enjoy being part of the team.

Taking a step back, “time to hire” is the time elapsed between engaging a candidate and their acceptance of an offer. There are three major factors impacting your efficiency here:

  1. How long does it take you to spot the right candidate from your pool of applicants?
  2. How fast do you get started once you find the right person?
  3. Where are there potential bottlenecks in your hiring process that make the process take longer?

Note that this is not about sourcing. What channels work for attracting candidates is important, but it’s only part of the picture. There are any number of external factors that impact your organization’s ability to attract candidates.

Likewise, there are any number of factors that might impact the time between a candidate accepts an offer and the time they actually begin working. Things like personal commitments or obligations to a current employer may lead to a delay in starting work.

But Time to Hire is all about the efficiency of your internal process, which means it impacts your ability to compete. Understanding and improving your time to hire lets you directly impact the overall performance of your business.

Of course, you’ll need internal benchmarks to begin your improvement process. You can find industry averages to get a ballpark figure on your organization is doing relative to those averages.

There are likely to be variances between your organization due to the peculiarities of your location or the types of roles you’ve been filling. However, if your performance is completely out of touch with those averages, you should quickly look at three areas of your process to get a jump start on improvement.

Break down your hiring pipeline by stage. Generate reports that tell you how long each stage takes. If candidates are being sourced well but get hung up during the screening process, you might need to consider adding resources to that stage or evaluating priorities.

Break down the time to hire by role or department. If there’s a lag for a particular function or within a specific department, have a chat with the hiring manager to find out what’s going on. Make sure they understand the importance of making quick decisions in the hiring process.

Finally, take a look at the length of your interview process. How long does the process take? How many people are involved? What challenges exist around scheduling interviews?

Once you know your time to hire metrics, you can quickly take action to make rapid changes and then focus on continuous improvements to your process. Injecting efficiencies into your hiring process will send the right message to job candidates, and to your peers on the management team.